Xpirit consists of a group of passionate people. One of them is Erwin Staal, Azure Architect & Microsoft Azure MVP. And besides that, he is the co-author of the published book Azure Infrastructure as Code with ARM templates and Bicep. In this interview, Erwin will tell you more about his new book.
Erwin, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
“Hi, my name is Erwin. I have worked for Xpirit as Azure Architect for almost a year now. I’m focused on building perfect solutions in the Azure Cloud and helping customers like Rabobank, Wunderman Thompson, and Provincie Gelderland with (re-)designing and building their solutions on Azure.”
So, you wrote a book. How did that happen?
“Well, it all started in October 2020 when Henry Been, one of the co-authors, was approached by Manning. Manning is a publisher of technical IT books. They asked him if he was willing to write a book on this topic. He had just finished his previous book, which he wrote by himself, and he had promised his family never to write a book again. But he liked the topic and changed his promise never to write a book ALONE again.
I had previously worked with Henry, and he approached me to co-write this book. He also asked Eduard Keilholz, a colleague of mine at my previous employer, to help write the book. And so it began.”
How do you start writing a book?
“Manning helped us a great deal there. Henry, Eduard, and I had a few conversations with Manning in which we talked about things like what should be in the book, what books are already out there on the same subjects, and who we see as our potential readers. We created a table of content and a draft outline per chapter. Manning then tested that to see if the market was interested and it was! We signed the contract and got started writing somewhere in December 2020.”
How did you decide on the table of contents?
“We first looked at what already was published and discussed what we thought should be in the book. We decided to divide the book into three parts;
- Introduction on infrastructure as code and how that works in Azure. Also, introduce the basis of ARM templates and Bicep.
- Go in-depth on ARM templates and Bicep.
- How to manage your entire Azure environment with infrastructure as code. This part is adding something that existing books don’t cover. They are primarily about creating your infrastructure with ARM templates and/or Bicep. We took it a step further to the entire environment. The book also discusses subjects like deploying your Infrastructure as Code using GitHub Actions or Azure DevOps, governing the environment using policies, and sharing your templates across the entire organization for reuse and standardization.
Who should read this book?
“Our minimal qualified reader, as it is called, is broad. It could be a developer in a DevOps team who wants to know more about the infrastructure side of things. I believe in the ‘You build it, you run it’ mantra, and so the book should help any engineer in a DevOps team manage their environment in Azure. But it could also be someone from operations who wants to migrate from on-premises to the cloud and who wants to know how to manage the environment end-to-end using Infrastructure as Code practices.
The reader should have about six months with Azure because we’re not explaining all the basics on Azure. The first few chapters cover the basics of Infrastructure as Code, Arm templates, and Bicep, but we’re going in-depth in the later chapters. That makes it also relevant for people who are already building their infrastructure for a couple of years using some of the techniques we cover.”
If you have read this book, then….
“You should be able to build and manage your own Azure environment with Bicep end-2-end. That’s not just writing the templates but also creating the pipelines to automatically deploy them, govern the environment using policies, testing your infrastructure, setting permissions, etc., etc.”
Is this your first book?
“Yes, it is.”
And your last?
“Haha, I should’ve expected that question. I don’t know. Never say never, but writing a book takes a lot of time, so I won’t start a new book soon. I had time to do it during the Corona pandemic because other things stopped. Now that we seem to come to the end of the pandemic, I like to focus more time again on public speaking, for example.”
Are you interested in learning everything about Azure Infrastructure as Code with ARM templates and Bicep? Order Erwin’s book as an e-book or in print https://www.manning.com/books/azure-infrastructure-as-code.
Tip: the book comes with a GitHub repository with all the code samples you can use. You can find it https://github.com/AzureIaCBook.